In 2008, Arcade Fire was finishing up a worldwide tour in support of “Neon Bible.” The crew had made it to Japan, and after the final show, multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry stayed to explore. It was there, a decade ago, that he found the seeds for his latest solo record, “Quiet River of Dust Vol. 1.”
“It was nonstop travel and chaos and crowds and volume,” he says of the touring life. “[But then] you just hit a moment where everything feels sane and beautiful and calm for the first time in a long time, after just so much disorienting chaos.”
amNewYork caught up with Parry, 41, to talk about his new album and finding peace in the midst of a hectic schedule.
Did you set out to create this record after that 2008 post-tour trip?
Definitely not. It was like sitting down and strumming a guitar, but loving the feeling that was coming out of everything I would play. It did feel effortless in a lot of ways. … Something definitely clicked, finding this place of quietude and solitude and expansive amount of time, no schedule, no deadlines, no tours, all of the above. And from having found that kind of space, that kind of life dynamic for a moment for the first time in who knows how long before that, then when I sat down with instruments — not even trying to do anything, just picking up a guitar. This music which eventually became all of the “Quiet River” songs just kind of rolled out without effort, without thinking. I just started to enjoy playing music alone and picking things up.
Ten years is a long time to work on an album.
You can call it a ten-year process, but I wasn’t actively working on a record until about five years ago, when I was like, “These are songs, this is a world of music that needs to be finished and shaped.” But for the first long time, it was just spending time alone, to have some space and time [in which] music would just happen. If you do that enough, the music that happened becomes songs and those become things you come back to over and over again. The first five years of that was just amassing a million little blips and recordings and voice memos, and eventually it’s like, “wait a second, this is a world that needs to be finished.”
Are there similarities between when you’re on the road with Arcade Fire and when you’re on the road with your solo work?
It feels like two really different worlds for the most part, for many reasons. The music is different, the types of spirits that I feel like I draw on in my solo work come from a little bit of a different place. It’s all music from a pure source, but this music is so shaped by time spent alone. I do have collaborators, but I’ve rarely gotten into arguments with anybody who I collaborate with on this music, but in Arcade Fire we argue all the time! And it can be healthy, and lead to really good music sometimes, but it can also make for really good music to have it just be smooth and easy and veer away from any conflict. You put lots of effort into it, but sometimes it’s great to take the more effortless path.
Richard Reed Parry performs at Murmrr on Tuesday at 8 p.m., 17 Eastern Pkway, Prospect Heights, murmrr.com $20